Bulls-Kings Preview

BY foxsports • February 2, 2016

Although the losses continue to mount, the Chicago Bulls are trying to stay positive.

The Sacramento Kings are feeling confident after ending a four-game losing streak without their All-Star.

The slumping Bulls try to win in a venue in which they haven't played well lately when they visit a Kings team uncertain to have DeMarcus Cousins on Wednesday night.

After being three games out of first place in the Eastern Conference on Jan. 8, Chicago (26-21) is now just 3 1/2 games ahead of ninth-place Charlotte. The Bulls' 4-9 record since then is better than only Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Orlando in the East.

Their last two games were a study in contrasts, as they were blown out in Sunday's 120-93 defeat to the Los Angeles Clippers and let one slip away in a 105-96 overtime loss at Utah the next night. Jimmy Butler had his second 26-point effort in three games but the Bulls were disastrous in the extra period, with three points and three turnovers while going 3 of 6 from the foul line and 0 for 3 from the field.

Center Pau Gasol tried to put a positive spin on the result.

"At least we gave ourselves a chance, which was something more than we did last night," he told the team's official website. "I don't worry about the tough, close losses. I worry about the losses we should have won and played at a different level and kind of gave away and allowed opponents to win. Whenever you bring the competitiveness, the effort, the energy, the sense of urgency I am OK with that."

The Kings (21-27) brought the intensity Monday against Milwaukee, as Rudy Gay stepped up for the injured Cousins and Ben McLemore. Cousins exited Saturday's loss to Memphis with a sprained left ankle, but Sacramento received some good news as X-rays came back negative.

Gay filled the scoring void with 32 points while adding nine rebounds and six assists in a 111-104 win. The Kings improved to 2-7 without Cousins, with both victories coming against the Bucks.

''DeMarcus being out had a lot to do with it. Obviously, he's been carrying us for the most part of the season,'' Gay said. ''When guys go down - not just him, Ben is out - guys have to step up.''

Even without Cousins, their leading rebounder at 11.3 per game, the Kings outrebounded Milwaukee 53-37.

The Bucks, however, are one of the league's worst teams on the glass while the Bulls average an NBA-best 48.6 boards.

Chicago averages 101.3 points per game but has averaged 91.0 in three defeats in its last four contests. It has been significantly worse offensively while losing three straight at Sacramento, averaging 79.0 points while being outscored by 28.7.

The Bulls have lost five of six to West teams while the Kings are 7-3 against the East at home.

Though it's managed to shut down Chicago, Sacramento is known for its offense, averaging 111.6 points over the last five games with Gay at 24.3 in three games played in that span. Sacramento, which split two with the Bulls last season, is 6-3 when Gay scores at least 23.

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